Fishing is for the Birds: Unlocking Ukai

Cormorants are masters of fishing. They watch and wait for their prey, and at the right moment, dive underwater, propelling themselves with their wings and feet, and catch their meal.

Ukai fishermen keep and train these birds, living and working with them day in and day out.

Ukai fishing takes place during the twilight hours, only illuminated by pine torches lit on the long wooden boats. Fishermen are followed into the water by about a dozen birds.

A leash-like snare is tied near the base of the bird’s throat, not to harm them, but to only allow small fish to be swallowed. Larger catches are caught and then retrieved from the cormorant’s mouth by the fisherman.

Believe it or not, each cormorant can hold up to six fish in its throat at a time!


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